BY: MICHAEL EMERSON
We all remember intently watching our favorite cartoons from our youth to experience the next bit of entertainment amongst the harshness of growing up. Whether it was the feature-length feasts of the Disney era to our usual Saturday morning fare, we treasured these shows dearly.
I believe, though, there’s one cartoon that gets snubbed when nostalgia starts to fill the air: Disney’s Gargoyles.
Gargoyles is a science-fantasy cartoon series created by Greg Weisman. This series has been noted as one of the most well-written and surprisingly dramatic kids shows to date.
The show takes place in medieval Scotland and stars the stoic Goliath as the leader of the Gargoyles, which are a race of nocturnal creatures who turn to stone during the day and can only awaken when the sun sets.
They live and work with humans to protect their castle home. During tension between the castle and Vikings, most of Goliaths’ species is betrayed and killed; the remaining gargoyles are magically frozen until the castle they reside in “rises above the clouds.”
This feat is made possible by the multi-billionaire Xanatos who literally builds a tower that perches the castle above the clouds breaking the Gargoyles’ curse, but are stuck in the present day Manhattan.
The drama presented in the show would most assuredly go over the heads of young viewers, especially since the different storylines take a lot of time for exposition and character development. The pilot alone takes five episodes before the characters reach their starting point, which is probably the reason why there aren’t more fond memories or iconic references from the cartoon that permeate in the present day.
Doom and gloom aren’t the only themes as Gargoyles presents a lot of action and comedy amidst the direness of the characters’ situation. Other than obvious but subtle culture shock humor, the show creates a cast of well-rounded and unique characters, both human and Gargoyle. While some characters are taken at face value at first, the different episodes and interactions with other characters give them more depth with each scene.
Not only does it offer a dramatic and engaging mythos, it also doesn’t pull punches in the well-handled execution of the heavy reality of the fantastical setting. People remember the old G.I. Joe cartoons and how they replaced bullets with harmless lasers, and whenever something blew up, everyone had a parachute.
Well, that doesn’t happen here. Death and loss are very real subjects as well as emotional turmoil, and there’s never a deus ex machina. Everything happens for a reason, and characters both bad and good all have reasonable justifications for their actions.
Gargoyles is a fantastic show and definitely deserves a second look no matter the age. Gargoyles is streaming for free at Disney.com.